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Mark S. from WASHINGTON, DC
Reviewed on 10/3/2015...
In 1956, as Norman Granz began preparations for The Cole Porter Songbook, he also began lining up Louis Armstrong for a series of recordings with Ella, yet another idea he got from Decca. Louis and Ella had recorded successfully as early as 1946, and had performed together numerous times with Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic. Though world's apart technically and stylistically, Ella and Louis generated a uniquely pleasant chemistry, in part because they genuinely liked one another, but mostly because they both possessed deep and thoroughly matured jazz imaginations.
And yet for all their chemistry, Ella and Louis (1956) and Ella and Louis Again (1957) are not as successful as one would have imagined. Part of this had to do with Louis' schedule. Every time Granz managed a few hours of studio time with Louis, he had worked the night before. His lip, which had been giving him increasing difficulty over the years, was fatigued, resulting in numerous retakes and final cuts which often sound cautious. Interestingly, Laserlight's Ella and Louis Together consists of out-takes from these albums and is not only less expensive but more fun. Both Ella and Louis foul up lyrics occasionally, and Louis muffs a note here and there on the trumpet, but overall the cuts contain an exuberance and humor that the "clean" takes don't have. One almost gets the impression that the musicians knew they were dealing with out-takes, so they relaxed and approached the music with more abandon.
-From "Remembering Ella" by Phillip D. Atteberry (1996)